The Senate of Pennsylvania approved a resolution sponsored by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) that requires an independent study of the future of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to be completed by the end of the year.
Senate Resolution 34 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state. The universities include Bloomsburg University, California University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney University, Clarion University, East Stroudsburg University, Edinboro University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Millersville University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University and West Chester University.
“When I saw the enrollment trends of PASSHE and compared those to other areas of higher education funded by state tax dollars, I was gobsmacked,” Argall said. “This study will help us understand, from an unbiased perspective, why enrollment at certain universities is declining, what the urgent needs are and how we best move forward to ensure the students of Pennsylvania can receive a quality and affordable degree.”
Between Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, enrollment is expected to grow by 10 percent over the next four years. Community colleges and Thaddeus Stevens College are also expected to see significant growth over the next four years. Over the same period, PASSHE’s growth is not expected to reach 1 percent.
“We have a real concern for many of these schools and this independent review will help us understand why these trends are occurring and how the problem can be remedied,” Argall said.
The LBFC, a bipartisan research agency, has until December 31, 2017 to report back to the General Assembly on its findings.